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Monday, February 27, 2006

Gotta love the outofdoors

I went hunting this weekend.

By "I went hunting", of course, I mean "I took a nice walk in the woods, enjoyed the sunshine and crisp fresh air and vaguely wondered why I wasn't seeing a single solitary rabbit or grouse or anything larger than a mole."

Didn't matter much, though. I don't think anyone would go hunting if they didn't just love being outside, and if you love being outside, a day hunting is (almost always) going to be a darn nice day.

So, Saturday and Sunday were darn nice days. Remarkably warm with crystal blue skies.

Late Saturday afternoon we sat outside by a little fire, just shooting the breeze (and sometimes just sitting there quietly, listening to the slow breeze caressing the leaves) and it was nothing short of peace itself.

One of the nicest days I've had in a looooong time.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Last night, I did a whole lotta nothin'.

Well, I did blast up to the theatre real quick -- put up a door and a window flat -- but that wasn't too hard, and took less than an hour. Then I practiced with the choir.....I didn't actualy get home from work until about 9:00 because of these things, but neither of 'em was any big deal.

Then I went upstairs and looked at the computer...and decided the heck with it, and went downstairs and had a beer and a pretzel and watched the Olympics.

Well, I also helped Michael deliver his papers at 11:00 p.m., but this also was no big deal.


I'm planning -- hoping for -- more of the same. I just don't feel like doing any work tonight.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Voiceover Work

Well, I don't know if it'll amount to anything, but I submitted my (sort of weak) voice demo to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center -- they're considering using my voice for a series of PSA's they're producing. It wouldn't be paid work, but it'd be really nice to put on my resume, and it's a good cause, so I'd be proud to be helping them.

I want to have my real demo tape produced within the next month or so, and then I'll try to really pursue this. I actually don't think the Rape Crisis Center will choose to use me, but if they did, it'd be cool to have actual, on-air work to include on my demo tape.

That's got to help with getting an agent, too.

Squashin' Bugs

Well, the upstairs computer -- for good or ill (and, being a Windows machine, will most likely be for ill) -- has been wiped out.

Bad guys gone. Good stuff gone. Allllllll gone. Skeery.

I did archive and move all the files to another network machine, so (in theory) after I install all the programs (and (trust me) enhanced spyware/virus protection), all I have to do is move all the documents and saved files back to the machine, and it'll be better than it ever was.

In theory.

Actually, I am pretty confident it will work just fine, although I'm still probably looking at another 5 or 6 hours of boring work on it.

I really hate computers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Nuts? Not so

I've been busy lately -- I'm not much of a sit-around guy -- but I surely haven't been anywhere near as crazy-go-nuts as I was at the end of last year. Lately, I've just been muddling through, doing this, doing that.

Well, I guess I was a bit wired in January doing house stuff, but that's a lot more fun and satisfying -- it's work for me, and that makes all the difference. I mean, I like doing things for other people, but it's less ulcer-inducing when I'm doing my own stuff. At least then, if things don't work out right or don't come out any good, at least it's only me I'm disappointing.

Of course, there's still a plate full of stuff to do....that, I'm guessin', will never end.

I spent about 3 hours last night just archiving files so that I can utterly re-format the upstairs computer -- my computer. When it's done, trust me -- I'm not lettin' anyone else use it. Spending 40 hours or so of my life cleaning up my own machine because someone else (read: kids) managed to get me virused is not, um, fun. Or edifying. Or even much better than a sharp stick in the booty.

Do guys have booties?

Monday, February 20, 2006


Other than the (ridiculously numerous) hours spent trying to turn the upstairs boat anchor into something resembling a computer, the weekend was pleasantly pleasant.

I got some lights wired and installed in the basement (which is actually turning into (sort of) a nice little hang out). Saturday, I got quite a bit (although, of course, not nearly enough) done on the set for the next show. It's going to be either a very cool, stylishly implied set (with intentionally missing walls to mirror the ways in which none of us are complete on our own) -or- it's going to look like a set in which we put neither the effort nor the money to make it right.

At the moment, it looks very much like the latter, although I think (I think!) it will come out right when it's complete and dressed.

It turned crazy cold on Saturday (in the morning, as I was loading my tools into the trunk of the car (right after my shower), my hair (such as it is) froze). When hair is rare, one has to take great care with the care and freezing of it, doncha know.

I made homemade pizza for dinner last night. It may be overly proud (and just a bit annoying) for me to say it, but DAMN I make a good pizza.

There. Needed to be said.

Update upon Update

I still hate computers.

I (may) hate the creators of spyware and viruses a mite worse, but only a mite. I don't blame them, really...Microsoft itself being genetically evil, how are they supposed to act?

I'm going to (laboriously)(tediously)(lengthily)(pissily) move all the documents, videos, songs et al to a backup folder (located (of course) elsewhere in the network), and then I'm going to re-format (with (very) bated breath) the whole damn thing.

I really hate computers.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I hate computers

Sometimes, I really hate having to deal with computers.

....and since (in theory) I'm the expert, whenever anyone I know has a computer problem, they come to me and ask for advice and/or help. I don't mind helping - at all! -- but sometimes it's really hard (or impossible) to fix 'em.

Especially when you get virused.

Our upstairs machine caught a spyware (or 9), and was running badly. It would flip up a "balloon warning" from our taskbar constantly; and would pop up a window about every minute or so that would bring all other tasks on the machine to a halt. This spyware was devious -- it was extraordinarily hard to find and eliminate it.

Well, after tons and tons and tonnagely tons of hours, I finally got it (I'm pretty sure) de-spywared.


One of the things this (evil) spyware did was to constantly disable our virus checker. So when I finally got the (satanic) spyware off the machine, I updated and ran the virus checker....which found over 1,200 instances of the Sality virus.

And it healed one of them...the other remained.

Damn it.

So I re-ran the virus checker in "safe" mode. It found the same number of instances (minus the one it had so efficiently healed already), and healed none of 'em. Damn it.


When I re-booted the machine, all our permissions had been disabled. I can't do anything on the machine any more. I can't run word, or excel, or or or anything.....and I can't even launch the "users" routine from the control panel to try to restore permissions. It tells me I don't have permission to do it.

Damn it.

I really don't know what to do. I'm going to try to do a Repair from my XP disk, but if that doesn't work, I don't know what to do.

Damn it.


When we met with the kids teachers on Tuesday, one of them told me a pretty interesting thing:

Mr. Seka told me that he and Mackenzie had hit it off badly right from the get go -- they didn't like each other, and just did not get along. About a month into the school year, though, she came up to him. She did it on her own, with no prompting from us (we didn't even know about it) or him.

She told him that she was sorry they didn't get along; she apologized for having disrespected him; and she hoped they could put that behind them and find a way to get along.

Well, since then, they've become really close -- they joke around together and just generally enjoy each other's company. I just thought that was a pretty impressive thing for her to do.

Of course, she's never apologized to me about anything, but hey, no one promised me miracles.

Voice et al

I do my vocal exercises every single day, as mentioned earlier. I've been kind of bumming, because they didn't seem to be doing any good.


But. Last night, on the ride home, I actually hit all the notes -- all of 'em! -- on the workout. They didn't all sound especially good, you understand, but I hit 'em. I hadn't been able to hit 'em this tells me that I am actually making progress, and that my range is actually (if lavaflowingly slowly) improving.

I was kind of excited about the progress, even while still (a little) bummed that I still sound like crap. At least it's, apparently, a slightly higher grade of crap than before.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pleasantly Pleasant

I had to meet with the kids' teachers yesterday. Yuk. I'm pretty annoyed at the teachers and the kids.

On the other hand, I took the whole day off, and then was able to spend the rest of the day just kind of hangin' with Jan, which was a really nice Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Voice Over

I met with Maria Farina (ex of WMMS) about getting into voiceover work, and I'm going to give it a try. I have no illusions or expectations of getting rich at it, or doing it as a career, but I believe (so does she, by the way) that I can get steady gigs at it. She helped me understand how to put together a demo CD; introduced me to her agent; introduced me to a recording engineer that will help me put together my demo. 's all very cool.

I expect to have my demo put together within the next month(ish); then I can work on getting an agent. It may all turn out to be just so much nothin'; but it's possible that it might be a real turning point in my life. 's possible!

Thursday, February 09, 2006


We had choir rehearsal last night. My voice still hurts.

Bums me out a lot.

I had been doing vocal exercises every day -- every single day -- for a while. I had a CD, and I would do the short exercises (8 minutes or so) in the car during the ride to work. I would do the whole magilla (45 minutes) on the ride home. I did this every work day; and on Saturday and Sunday I would still do the short exercise program.

All to try to regain a bit of my range; and (more importantly) to make my voice stop hurting so much when I sing.

Well, the Subaru (the car with the CD player) had axle problems (which I have yet to fix), so I started driving the I quit doing the exercises for about a month. I finally put the exercises on a cassette, so I could do 'em in the Taurus, too, and I've been real diligent about doing them for the last couple of weeks.

But my voice hurts. Hurts a lot. Sometimes, after only about 5 minutes of singing, it feels like a (bad!) muscle cramp across my whole throat and voice box....and sometimes, after spending time in the upper register, it can feel like it's being stabbed with a hot poker....and that feeling can last.

Like now. My voice is in great pain this morning -- fully 12 hours after I stopped singing.

What's worse is that a) I still don't sound good, and b) the "upper range" that hurts is now anything above an E...I used to be able to sing a Bflat without pain. Now I can't even sing it, and an F hurts like a mother.

I know I've said this before, but I still can't quite reconcile with it. I do so very few things well, and one of the few things I honestly thought I did okay was singing. Now, not so much. That hurts me emotionally just as much as the voice box hurts me physically.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Odd Winter

This has been a really unusual winter. It snowed a bit in early December (which we all, being Clevelanders, took as an evil portent). But then it slipped into the 40's before Christmas...and basically stayed there through the end of January.

Amazing. Wonderful and relieving and amazing.

Here's the typical Cleveland response, though:

I heard a guy on the radio complaining about the lack of snow. He was saying "It's January; It's winter. It's supposed to snow in Cleveland in the winter!"

We're all so downtrodden and used to being the underunderunderdogs that when something good happens, we dig to find the coal within the diamond, the worm in the apple, the tin foil in the meatball sandwich. Er sump'n.

Well. Not me. I loved having a winter break, and really, it's too late for this winter to be ruined. Even if it snows every single day until the ides of March, it'll still end up being an overall pleasantly mild(ish) winter.

The skiers are complaining, but who cares? They're skiers. They go really fast in really cold air on purpose. How bright could they be?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


We did it.

We had the Super Bowl party on Sunday night, and the back room was stripped, patched, painted, fauxed, and chair-railed. Party went great (even if the despicable Steelers won).

AND....the basement was cleared; and the kids hung there. We had the ping-pong table up; the dartboard; the foosball table; pop-a-shot; a TV; a stereo; a game-cube; and a table to play games or do crafts on. Was really nice.

There's still plenty to do in the basement -- I didn't get the can lights up (I'll try to get 'em up within the next couple of weeks) -- but it's now a large and useable space.

Which is mondo cool (and monumentally unexpected, for us).....


Monday, February 06, 2006

Not so bad

Well, after getting into the theatre on Saturday and beginning tech work for the next show, things aren't as bad as I thought. I designed (on the fly!) a new, fairly simple and easy (yet (hopefully) effective) set, and we'll be able to get the thing basically up in one session....then we'll just need to focus on set dressing and such.

Although....I am going to try something I've never done before -- I'm going to try to build a false backyard for the brownstone that is the main set. You'll be able to see through the walls to the back yard, and even though I'll only have about 30 inches behind the back flats, if I build the perspective on the fence right, it'll look like we're looking back into a large fenced in yard. 's gonna be fun to try, anyway.

And if it doesn't work....thank God for black paint.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Set work

I taught a "Backstage Theatre" class last night -- well, actually, it was Linda's class. I was mostly there to help her (although I did spend a fair amount of time explaining lighting design and operation, and set design fundamentals).

It was shocking when we walked into the theatre, though.

We do have a (fairly) nice deal with the school. They let us use their little theatre, and we can build our sets and leave 'em up (usually). We are at the mercy of their schedule (which sometimes (like this year) bites us in the backside), but these are the vagaries of a theatre group without a venue.

By design, the set for our fall show ("The Foreigner") was to be similar to the set for our winter show. The reason for this is that the set for our spring show ("Man of La Mancha") will be extremely difficult and complicated (taking place, as it does, in a dungeon). My intent was to do a quick modification of the "Foreigner" set (basically, I was going to remove two flats -- the fireplace wall -- and replace 'em with shelves for nicknacks; and install french doors over the entrance door -- that's it), and then spend much of the tech time for this show pre-building the set for "Man of La Mancha".

Well. Apparently, the school decided they needed the stage for some "actor's workshop" they were having (which is, of course, their right). But they went in, and took down the old set completely. Moreover, they seemed to have taken it down with no regard for the set pieces. When I walked in last night, I found broken flats, a broken table, pieces of wood screwed onto our staircase (for no discernable reason), lighting instruments taken down and tossed onto the staircase, flats lying about in a jumble....They really hurt us -- first, by physically damaging some (a lot!) of our pieces, and then by requiring me to spend a ton of time building this set from scratch (which was not what I had laid out our tech time to do). It's their theatre, but it's our equipment and set pieces, and they showed ZERO respect for our stuff. It's somewhere between disheartening and downright infuriating.


Stuff is done.

The back room is stripped, painted, re-painted, and fauxed. The chair rail is (mostly) up, except for the wall that was re-painted.

The basement is cleared, the dimmers are up. The can lights didn't make it, but they're ready to go. I need to install the circuit breaker for 'em, but the triple dimmer box is up, with the dimmers installed. I had to modify the dimmers themselves to fit, but (one hopes) that won't affect the operation of 'em at all.

I'll touch up the ceiling tonight, and finish that chair rail tonight or (probably) tomorrow afternoon.

Nice to get stuff done....especially since theatre work starts up tomorrow. More on that later.